How I Got FREE UNLIMITED BOOKS, and other Senior Deals!!


How? I joined our local library. But wait, that’s not the end of the story! For me, it all starts about April 1, 1959, when the brand-new Hollywood Library opened in Portland, OR. I was a whole 8 ½ years old, but it was in easy reach when I got my Schwinn bicycle. Exploring the shelves, doing high school homework there to escape the chaos of four younger siblings in the house,  reading, reading, always reading. I loved that library! 

Fast forward a few years, and I found myself working at Multnomah County Library Central branch, built about 1913. What a beautiful building! Working behind the scenes, in the book stacks, in the A/V area, getting the microscopic staff elevator stuck between floors, playing Mille Borne at lunch – and the selection of books was AMAZING! Great memories of an amazing place.

Years later I moved to Bellingham, WA, and found I could walk to the library during my lunch hour, select a half-dozen books, walk back, and still have time to wolf down my brown-bag lunch! I did that for 20 years, when I got another job about 30 miles south, and then eventually moved to Skagit County. Ironically enough, not too long after that, I found a new position back in Bellingham, but with 30 minutes for lunch, and a lot longer distance, library visits became a thing of the past. Yeah, I discovered Amazon books, and the bookshelves at Costco, but it wasn’t the same. I made a list of things I wanted to do once I retired, and getting set up at our local library was one of them.  

We live in a small town, about 12,000 souls, so I wasn’t expecting much, but I had to check it out. It turned out to be reasonably larger than expected, and had some unexpected bonuses! Movies on DVD by the hundreds! All those movies I never had time to watch before, now at my fingertips – going to be great when the winter rains come, and drive me inside. Narrated books on CD by the dozens and dozens! We are planning a couple of major road trips, and these are so much fun, haven’t listened to them in years. 

But wait, there’s more! Free access to Lynda.com, which offers classes in photography, writing, computer programming and more! Hoopla, where I can instantly borrow digital movies, music, eBooks and more! Freegal, free access to 15 million songs! I can go to several genealogical sites, travel info sites, American food culture sites, and language learning software! Yeah, I’m excited about all the possibilities.

Next stop was the Senior Center, right across the parking lot from the library. Also free, but …. I may wait a few years to avail myself of their offerings. One (well, two to be technical) more stops to check out something I read about in my Medicare supplement information, Silver Sneakers (or for some, Silver and Fit). 

I try to keep fit, using an elliptical exercise machine, exercise ball and elastic band, and dumbbells, but I feel like I need help targeting flexibility, balance, and proactive anti-sciatica exercises. I checked it out, and found there are two gyms  – one a mile away, and a much larger sister facility about 12 miles away. Guess what! It’s free!! OK, I will have to pay a personal trainer once for a workout tailored to my exact needs, but I’m excited about the potential. Zumba Gold, tailored for the (ahem) “active older participant,” SilverSneakers for 65+ members, and once I get really toned (I hope) fast-moving PiYo that combines pilates with Yoga.

And my wife is excited about Aqua Pilates. Me, not so much, but I told her I’d be willing to get in a swimsuit if she would. 

I’m enjoying the heck out of this summer, going on lots of fabulous hikes in our beautiful North Cascades, keeping our yard in the best shape it’s ever been in, connecting with friends, neighbors and family, but I know our summers are short up here in the northwest. So when those infamous winter rains set in, if you can’t find me at the gym, there’s a really good chance you’ll find me at  the library.